The scorching Melbourne weather was not enough to weaken the spirit of enthusiasm on display at the Melbourne Global Game Jam, which took place from Friday, January 23 to Sunday the 25th at Swinburne University. A total of 206 participants-a quarter of them female-attended the event, where a wide array of both tabletop and digital games were developed in a condensed time period.
A ‘game jam’ is celebration of a multitude of different fields including programming, artistic expression and narrative exploration, but first and foremost, it is a celebration of game creation. Completely powered by volunteers, it is also an inclusive, collaborative space that brings people together to foster friendships with like-minded individuals, and a vehicle to drive the global spread of creativity and game development. 2015 commemorates the seventh year since the very first Global Game Jam was held in 2009. The theme for this year was “What do we do now?”.
Giselle Rosman, IGDA (International Game Developers’ Association) Melbourne chapter leader and coordinator of the Melbourne Global Game Jam, oversaw the jam, where a total of 53 games were created. Rosman would like to extend her thanks to Film Victoria, Swinburne, PAX Aus, Unity, Autodesk, Storm FX, and IGM for sponsoring the event. A small selection of the games on display-which have all since been uploaded onto the Global Game Jam Melbourne website-is presented below.
Dreadmill, as its name suggests, is a game that combines zombies, digital games, and treadmills in an effort to encourage physical activity and push people to their limits in the same vein as Zombies, Run. Treadmills are controlled via laptops as one player is pitted against the other in an aggressive yet friendly competition where they must kill any zombies that approach. Should they choose, players can also cooperate with one another, but if they jump off the modified treadmill at any point they lose the game. If you are interested in testing out Dreamill, you can download it from here.
YouTube Cat Video Simulator
Focusing intently as he designs each card, Joshua Harvey explains that YouTube Cat Video Simulator is a multi-player card game where cats are the star of the show. Featuring quirky character cards such as the boxing ‘cataroo,’ the flying cat, and the snow-boarding cat, the game requires players to compare their points with one another as cards are gradually revealed in an effort to reach a high score. There are unique restrictions which impact gameplay, including long claws which prevent players from boxing, and a ‘brave’ or ‘serious’ attribute which means players cannot gain a point. Test out YouTube Cat Video Simulator today from the Global Game Jam Website.
Talking turns graphic in Waiting Room, a cooperative game that challenges players to survive in a room with an endless series of doors without using hand gestures or any verbal communication. In each room there are two doors to choose from, where one will lead to your demise and the other to victory. Above the doors is a TV screen which shows your partner’s room and the correct door they need to go through to survive, but the only way to relay the necessary information to them is by using the small selection of random icons at the bottom of your screen. Waiting Room is now available to play in a browser on Mac or Windows platforms.
Developed by CHUNKworks & Amazing Friends, Save President is multiplayer arcade game where the President of the future has been captured by techno barbarians and is about to be executed. Starting off in a Colosseum-style arena, players control cars that are attached by means of wire to the President’s body. The aim of the game is to escort him to safety outside the arena (dubbed the extraction point) while avoiding all the obstacles that threaten him, and without losing too many of the President’s limbs, although the developers admit that so far “everyone has tried to snap him in half”. You can play Save President right here.
Yo Ho Votes!
Another entry in the tabletop genre is card game Yo Ho Votes!, created by Clinton Shepherd and Ben Kosmina of Tin Man Games. With its pirate-themed gameplay that introduces the odd yet loveable character of ‘Crazy Jake’ (now Crazy Jane) players must select from a bunch of ‘direction tokens’ in order to determine which direction their ship will pursue; north, south, east, or west are the options available. The direction that receives the most votes wins, however the real anarchy begins when a simple voting process results in a tie, or when other players deliberately sabotage the game in order to prevent others from reaching a nearby treasure. If you feel like embracing your inner Jack Sparrow, you can try out Yo Ho Votes! today from the Global Game Jam website.
Programmer James Rhodes used ‘protogame’, a self-made game engine in order to construct the simulation game Society. As society shuffles through the various seasons, players are tasked with balancing critical stats like hunger, while making sure that food is distributed evenly and fairly so the remaining population does not revolt and take the food for themselves. To get a feel for Society, you can test it out here.
Sufferage was developed by Sam Maher and Charlie Timlock of Orthus Games, and is a 4 player semi co-op dungeon crawler where players decide the fate of their friends. The game, which was created using Game Maker, sees players control what the developers affectionately describe as “a bunch of little hobbits”, tiny, pixelated characters that can engage in a number of attacks that play out in a top-down, birds eye view. As Maher and Timlock’s first game jam, they report that drawing to their strengths (such as pixel art) seemed like an effective approach to make a good game. Test out Sufferage today here.
The story of Redacted centers around a deadly robot virus that has somehow become transmissible to humans. A two-player game, Redacted will challenge players to look for new evidence as they figure out the mystery of what caused the virus to spread. The game will be a PC/Oculus Rift game, where you will be able to access new footage throughout the story by talking to the mysterious, all-seeing Operative. You can play Redacted today.
Over 5,000 games were created in this year’s Global Game Jam, which is a testament to the increasing reach and popularity the event has achieved since its inception. Next year’s Global Game Jam will officially run from January 29 to 31, where we can expect to see even more wonderful games being created from scratch. Have you ever attended or participated in a Global Game Jam before? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments section!